Warde field hockey upends Staples in OT
WESTPORT--The Fairfield Warde and Staples field hockey teams have spent the last several seasons gaining talent and experience that could result in challenging the elite teams of the FCIAC once the postseason rolls around.
When the two squads faced off on Tuesday they looked every bit their equal, so much so that overtime was required to decide a winner.
Elizabeth Gallucci's goal with 4:17 remaining in overtime sent Warde to a 2-1 win over Staples, ending the Wreckers' perfect start to the season. The Mustangs moved to 6-1-0-0 while Staples dropped to 5-0-0-1.
Gallucci converted a cross ball from Sophia Mancini, who forced the overtime session with a game-tying goal with less than 11 minutes left.
"I couldn't have done it without the girls," Gallucci said. "The pass up to the top was amazing and having girls on the left post brought confidence to the team. It was an amazing feeling."
Gallucci's goal capped a wild seven-on-seven overtime session, one that included a pair of quality chances by the Wreckers. Mustangs goalie Katy Stepsis made a save on a shot by Elizabeth Bennewitz 45 seconds into overtime to keep her team alive. Moments later, Jenna McNicholas weaved through the Warde defense before firing a shot wide of the cage.
"We had the ball for a while (in overtime) and I was afraid once we lost possession (Warde) would have a breakaway and take it down," Staples coach Ashley Del Vecchio said. "They did a great job."
The Mustangs tied the game with 10:47 left in regulation off their 11th and final penalty corner. Darci Byington slid a pass through the crease that Mancini slammed home.
"We had mentioned that there was some space on one side (of the goal), but actually we tried it on the corner before and it didn't work out," Warde coach Jodie Shannon said. "I think it was (the team's) determination to get through; we practice it a lot."
The goal sparked Staples, which threatened to double its lead from both open play and penalty corners. Warde had the best chance of the half with a one-on-one opportunity that went wide of the cage.
"We don't get deflated with (giving up) goals, which is nice to see," Shannon said. "But we knew even letting one in with Staples was going to be tough; they're having a great year and they're a great program. I'm glad we were able to (come back)."
The Wreckers outshot the visitors 9-3 in the second half, but Warde's equalizer was the lone ball that found the cage.
"I'm proud of (our team), I think they played really well," Del Vecchio said. "It was very difficult, Warde was great. Their girls are quick and they stepped in front of us. We just made a few too many silly mistakes."
The teams combined for 18 penalty corners Tuesday.
Warde 2, Staples 1 (OT)
WARDE 0 1 1 -- 2
STAPLES 1 0 0 -- 1
Records: Warde 6-1; Staples 5-0-0-1. Goals: W--Sophia Mancini, Elizabeth Gallucci; S--Jamie Tanzer. Assists: W--Darci Byington, Mancini; S--Jordan Ragland. Goalies: W--Katy Stepsis (6 saves); S--Jodie Baris (5 saves), Carolynn van Arsdale (2 saves).